Thursday, 30 June 2011

Clapton Heritage Vandalism Update

We have received a response from Hackney Planning to the concerns raised about the damage caused to the former Ship Aground. We have sought advice on this and will be responding to Hackney within the next couple of days. Hackney were due to send a structural engineer to inspect the building yesterday. There are some other developments which we are seeking to clarify and will update you on these shortly.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Heritage vandalism

Hackney Hive has reported on local concerns about the work being undertaken without planning consent on the former Ship Aground pub at 144 Lea Bridge Road which is a building of townscape merit within Lea Bridge conservation area: Hackney Hive Ship Aground.

You can't helped but feel that if Tesco, rather than a faith group, had been responsible for such damage and breaches of planning consent, Cllr Ian Rathbone, who has been aware of the issues since late last year) would have been on the front pages of the Gazette protesting about the need to protect our heritage.

Below, for the public record, is a copy of the letter sent to Hackney setting out the concerns and the action requested. Hackney have confirmed they are investigating and a site visit with the enforcement officer, Cllr Linda Kelly and local residents took place on 13th June (we'll report back on the outcome of this once we have it).  

LB of Hackney Head of Planning
LB of Hackney Building Control
LB of Hackney Conservation and Design Officer
LB of Hackney Landscape and Trees Officers

Former Ship Aground Building, 144 Lea Bridge Road, Clapton, E5


1.    I am writing to request urgent action in respect of the former Ship Aground Building at 144 Lea Bridge Road which is within Lea Bridge  conservation area (designated in 2005). It is identified as a “Buildings of Townscape Merit” and was subject to  a Planning application 2010/2126 for change of use from public house (use class A4) on 9/9/2010 and a decision granted on 4/11/2010.
2.    I wish to raise a number of concerns which require urgent action – the major one being I think the building could now be structurally unsafe. 

3.    The application form, the submitted plans, the design and access statement, the accompanying correspondence from the applicant/agent and the Council officer’s report all confirm that no consent was granted for any alterations to the external appearance of the building.

4.    Substantial external and structural alterations have been made to the building placing the conservation of the entire building in peril. These include:

a.    Demolition of the original rear extension above ground floor level , now left open to the wind and weather.

b.    Removal of all roof covering leading to water ingress.

c.     Inadequate propping with bowing timbers clearly evident and possibly insufficient wind bracing.

d.    Potential harm to the mature tree in the corner of the site, which should be protected either by a TPO or the conservation area controls.

e.    The non consented works comprise alterations to the external appearance and building operations and do not constitute permitted development. The works also fall within the control of the listed buildings and conservation areas act and guidance in PPS5.

f.      No prior approval application has been made or considered by the Council in relation to the substantial demolition in the conservation area. The works are substantial and, if they progress further, or lead to a collapse, may lead to a total loss of the building.

g.    The Council’s on-line records, applicant/agent correspondence, the delegated report and the decision notice clearly point to an intention to demolish the rear and this should have been incorporated into the scheme under consideration. It appears to be two stages of one scheme and the applicant appears to have been attempting to disaggregate the liked proposals in order to commence work on one later scheme.

h.    The failure to secure permission for the works, which the applicant clearly intended to carry out when the change of use application was submitted, and of which the planning authority was clearly aware, and may even have indicated in principle consent. This removed the opportunity to control or for the community to be consulted upon the following changes. This results in unfairness and a breach of the principle of natural justice which should be upheld throughout the exercise of planning powers:

i.      The opportunity to object.

j.      The opportunity to apply conditions in relation to design, fenestration and materials.

k.     The opportunity to apply adequate measures to protect the mature tree on the site.

l.      If the full extent of the proposed works, as understood by the applicant and the authority, had been properly described, a heritage assessment under PPS 5 should have been required.
5.    There are further errors in the application and the assessment/determination process:

a.    The description of development refers only to a change of use but the plans and also the planning conditions necessitate alterations which comprise alterations to the external appearance of the building and building works/ operational development which fall under planning control.

b.    The proposal includes alterations to an existing vehicular access which requires express consent and an additional application fee should have been paid.

c.   The council’s landscape officer was not consulted on the application which included a mature tree in the conservation area.

d.    The Council’s conservation and deign officer was not consulted.

e.    The limited ‘headline’ description, referring only to a change of use, may have permitted delegated consent to be granted without referral to the committee. However, the other alterations that are hidden in drawings, correspondence, planning conditions etc may have necessitated referral to the planning subcommittee. A breach of the Council’s standing orders (rules) may have occurred.

f.      Burning of building products occurred on the site in breach of the permission.

g.    I do not know if the planning conditions have been complied with in relation to refuse structures and double glazing


1.    The works being carried out do not relate to the consented scheme

2. The consented scheme has not been commenced and all of the works may be unauthorised and unlawful.

3.    There has been a clear breach of planning control.

4.    There is substantial risk of harm to the fabric and the character and appearance of this building of merit  and harm to the character and appearance of the  conservation area as a whole.

5.    I am therefore requesting that LB Hackney take the following action:-

a.    The Council’s building control section take action to investigate a potentially unsafe structure.

b.    The Local Planning Authority should urgently consider instigating enforcement action, such as a stop notice or possibly a breach of condition

c.     A new application comprising all of the proposed works should be submitted in order for the council to properly consider it, properly protect the conservation area and this building of merit within it; exercise proper control through conditions, and. most importantly, permit the community to comment upon the proposals; which has been denied by the stealthy approach adopted by the applicants and licensed by the authority.

d.    The Council’s landscape and trees officers should take action regarding the potential harm to the tree from the hoarding nailed to it, bearing down upon the roots, and the building rubble around the base behind the hoarding.

e.    The Council’s conservation and design officer should be asked to visit the site and to comment.

f.      There has been specific breach of planning condition number 7: development in accordance with approved plans

g.    Condition No.6 restricting use to a maximum of 25 persons is not controlled through a legal agreement and as a planning condition it is unenforceable and can be challenged by the applicants.

6.    Can you please confirm receipt of this letter and that it has been forward to each of the relevant persons and Departments within LB Hackney where I have requested issues to be investigated.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Walthamstow Reservoirs - yours for a quid

We'd actually been heading for the retail park at Tottenham Hale. On the walk over, along the lea, Millfields Blog lamented the lack of access to Walthamstow reservoirs - views always seemed to limited to those from the walk along Coppermill Lane, the train from Hackney Downs to Tottenham Hale or the bus along Forest Road. The Redhead said he was sure there was public access. On such a beautiful day - we decided to ditch the shopping and to check it out. Off we headed to the Thames Water Fisheries entrance on Forest Road, opposite the Ferry Boat Inn near Tottenham Hale.

The entrance didn't look promising with conflicting signs as to whether the public (other than fishermen) were welcome.

Once you're in, you're finally made to feel welcome. The very helpful man in the building at the gate advised the general public were allowed in for a £1 fee. He took us to the visitors hut for our tickets and off we went on our adventure... 

 We had a wonderful afternoon and can't wait to go back (prepared with a picnic this time) and thoroughly recommend it. We're sure the lack of promotion about public access is deliberate which is a shame - they should be actively encouraging people to check out this stunning site.

Bee Talk